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March 28, 2014

New Hampshire drivers are so vain

Vanity plates are everywhere in state

When Derry resident Colleen Regan wanted to get her mother a car as a birthday present, she knew what the perfect complement would be — a vanity plate.

“It says BLOK, which is the name of her four grandchildren,” Regan said. “She loved it.”

Regan’s mother is one of many in New Hampshire who have a vanity plate on their vehicles. Vanity plates were listed by readers as one of the “603 Reasons” New Hampshire is special.

In 2007, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators issued a report which tracked the number of vanity license plates. New Hampshire was second in the nation, trailing only Virginia with 12 percent of all the cars registered.

Today, around 10 percent of all cars registered use vanity plates, according to Chris Ialuna, the supervisor of registrations with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

“I’ve heard bits and pieces that New Hampshire remains high when it comes to vanity plates,” he said. “But I have no confirmation of that. I don’t know what other states have.”

A reason for that may be the price of vanity plates. In New Hampshire, it’s only $40 extra a year for a personalized plate. In Massachusetts it is $50 and in Maine it is $45.The fee in New Hampshire increased from $25 to $40 in 2010.

“From what I see, people who paid the $25 fee before the change, continue to pay the fee,” Hampstead Town Clerk Tricia Curran said. “If anything has dropped, it’s new sales.”

Ialuna said the state experienced a drop when the hike was announced, but registrations are now back up to where they were before the increase.

“It’s pretty consistent,” he said. “We’re within 5,000 of where we were, which is pretty good.”

Curran estimated that 10 percent of all registrations in Hampstead are for vanity plates.

In Atkinson, the percentage is even higher.

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